Archive for the ‘Human Resources Management’ Category

3 Things I Learned About Recruiting from My Boys and Their Legos

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

In today’s post, CAI’s Peer Learning Recruiter, Jennifer Montalvo, shares how her two sons help inspire her recruiting methods.

Jennifer Montalvo, Peer Learning Recruiter

Jennifer Montalvo, Peer Learning Recruiter

My boys have thousands, no, hundreds of thousands of Legos and are continuously looking for the “right piece.”  Often, I stand over them baffled that they are arguing about “he got the one I wanted.”  I look at the two of them and pan over the vast sea of dumped Legos and reply with, “Really?  You’re telling me out of all of these pieces, that’s the only one you need?”   The reply, “… but it’s the best one, and it fits where I need it.”

Sometimes all my boys needed to do was look deeper at the structure they were building. They had the power to create whatever it was that they could envision.  Many times there was a piece that was overlooked or missed that would fit a.) just as well b.) better or c.) differently. I have learned a lot from this scenario in regard to recruiting. Here are my three takeaways:

Just as well

  • Chances are, amongst the thousands of pieces sprayed across the floor, a piece just like the one they were seeking was there. They may have had to look just a bit harder. The lesson being – don’t give up too quickly. After all, the vehicle that initially came out of the Lego box had four wheels!

Better

  • After a bit of convincing to “think out of the box” when they couldn’t find the exact same piece, they would come across a piece that actually fit better. They would then find that all the little nodules filled the space and consequently made the foundation of their creation even stronger.

Differently

  • Sometimes they would relinquish the desired piece to their sibling, and walk away frustrated and disappointed. However, they would often return with a fresh set of eyes and a different perspective. It was then that their structure would evolve into something unique and dynamic that they didn’t initially intend. And, if they were lucky, their structure would outshine and outlast that of their brother’s.

Recruiting is much like my children playing with Legos. Sometimes you have to look beyond your initial idea, thought or plan to uncover someone whose fit is well-beyond what you ever could have imagined. Keeping an open mind will often lead you to that “diamond in the rough” scenario.

So remember:

  • Don’t give up too quickly
  • Be willing to think out of the box
  • Walk away when needed and return with a fresh set of eyes and a different perspective

If you’re interested in more recruiting tips or would like more information on CAI’s Peer Learning Groups, please contact Jennifer at Jennifer.Montalvo@capital.org or 919-431-6093.

Is Turnover Draining your Company?

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

In today’s video blog, CAI’s Vice President of Membership, Doug Blizzard, discusses turnover and offers ways to help you improve it at your company. Doug begins by sharing that CAI has heard from member organizations that turnover has been rising substantially, doubling and tripling at some companies.

Doug believes that the major issue concerning turnover is that some companies are not addressing it appropriately as a company priority, and he shares his detailed opinion on why during the video. Below is a quick review:

  • Underestimating the true cost of turnover and therefore not allocating appropriate resources
  • Partnering HR with the CFO prior to any executive discussions on fixing turnover is critical
  • Spending time in areas in the company where turnover isn’t a problem to see what you can learn and apply in other areas

CAI has recently added two more HR experts on our Advice and Resolution team who specialize in helping companies think through operational and strategic HR issues like turnover, mergers & acquisitions, talent management, and more. Please reach out to Tom Sheehan or Rick Washburn at 919-878-9222 if you need help thinking through those types of issues.

How to Bounce Back After Vacation in 4 Steps

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

returning to work_vacationThe summer solstice has officially come and gone, and with the onset of soaring temperatures and gas prices comes a welcome reprieve for much of the nation’s workforce —vacation. For many employees, the draw of warm weather and carefree nature of the summer months makes it an ideal time to step away from their office computers and “unplug” for a little while.

With many employees getting ready to head to the leisure spots of their choosing, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of stealing away from the office for a vacation. While there’s nothing wrong with taking some “me” time, it’s important to come back to work refreshed and ready to get back into the swing of things.

While a return to work following a week of blissful relaxation can be jarring, following these four tips may help make the transition from vacation back into work much easier to master.

  1. Plan ahead

Before whisking off to some tropical island, make sure you have your ducks in order at work. Communicate to your coworkers that you’ll be away so they won’t be caught off guard when you’re unavailable. In addition, try to see larger and more  difficult projects to completion before the vacation. This will not only give you a sense of accomplishment before you leave, but will also allow you a smoother reentry into the office upon your return. With the larger tasks behind you, you’re then able to take on the smaller tasks  — missed phone calls or emails that accumulated in your absence —and ease back into your normal work pace.

  1. Keep your out of office message on the first day back

You know that charming message you left on your voicemail letting inquiring minds know that for the next week you would be relaxing on a beach in the Bahamas? Leave it on your first day back. By leaving it on, you’re allowing yourself time to sift through those missed emails and sort out what projects to tackle next. Your coworkers will see you back in the office and know you’re available to help, but letting clients know may drag you into new projects and expectations too quickly. You’ll be doing yourself a favor by giving yourself undivided time to catch up on the work you missed.

  1. Get plenty of sleep

Our sleep schedules tend to get all out of whack when we go on vacation. While an erratic sleep schedule works just fine on vacation, it just won’t cut it once when we find ourselves waking up to a piercing early morning. For your first few nights back, try to get to sleep at least an hour earlier than usual to ensure you are well-rested when the alarm clock goes off.

  1. Share memories of your vacation with others

It’s only natural to want to share memories of your blissful time away. It’s likely among the precious few times of the year when you’re able to relax completely. Sharing memories of your travels will remind you of your time away and can elevate your mood, putting you in a positive mindset to take on the tasks of the day. In addition, engaging with your coworkers through your stories can build a better sense of community and translate into a more dynamic and collaborative work environment.

For additional information on ensuring your team stays productive this summer, please call a member of our Advice & Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Ra’anan Niss.

Restricting Transgender’s Use of Restroom Found in Violation of Title VII

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

George Ports, CAI’s Senior Executive and HR Advisor, shares important information on handling the sensitive issue of transitioning and the workplace.

George Ports, Senior Executive and HR Advisor

George Ports, Senior Executive and HR Advisor

No doubt you’ve heard the name Caitlyn Jenner mentioned a few times around your office over the past few months.  Some label Bruce Jenner’s transition as courageous while others label it disturbing.  Either way, when employees decide to make a gender transition, it can create employee relations issues for employers. Is there a best way to handle this situation?

Well first let’s look at what the government says.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found on April 1, 2015 that restricting a transgender employee (transitioning from male to female) from using the common women’s restroom was sex discrimination under Title VII.   The agency also ruled that the continued refusal by one of her supervisors to use her changed name and appropriate gender pronouns established a hostile work environment because it was deliberate and openly practiced in the workplace.

The individual, a civilian employee working for the US Army as a software quality assurance lead, began discussing her gender identity issues with the quality division chief in 2007, began the process of transitioning her gender expression in 2010, and officially changed her name with the state.  She was also successful in getting the government to change her name and sex on all her personnel records. She met with her supervisor and his supervisor in October of that year to request time off for medical procedures and announced her transition to her co-employees in November.  To read this case in its entirety, go to Lusardi v McHugh.

One of the first dilemmas employers face in these transitioning processes is which restroom does the person use? In this particular case, it was understood that the individual would use a “single-user” restroom until she had undergone “final surgery”.  The EEOC stated that an employer cannot restrict access to facilities until surgery was completed determining the individual’s sexual identity.

Another issue in this case dealt with the use of male gender pronouns. The employee claimed that her supervisor intentionally referred to her by her former male name and used male pronouns when referring to her in front of other employees (this was corroborated by witness testimony during the agency’s investigation). The EEOC found that continued refusal to use an employee’s correct name and gender may be sex-based harassment and create a hostile work environment.

While is it understandable that a supervisor persistently calling the individual by her former male name and using male pronouns when referring to her in front of her peers creates a hostile work environment, it is disappointing that the EEOC did not thoroughly consider the major employee relations issues generated by a male transitioning to a female using female restrooms. This could create issues not only with the female employees, but also with the female employees’ spouses and or their significant others.

OSHA has also recently put out guidance for employers on accommodating transgender employees restroom preferences.  That guidance is attached to this article.  OSHA’s core principle is that all employees, including transgender employees, should have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

We frequently receive calls from members about the restroom issue.  What should you do?  First, we believe it’s important to keep an open dialogue with the transitioning employee.  If available and reasonably accessible, single-occupancy or unisex facilities can serve as a temporary facility for transitioning employees during the transition process, but should not be a permanent solution.  If you don’t have such facilities, discuss the sensitive nature of the situation with the transitioning employee.  Suggest that restroom breaks be taken at low traffic times to reduce awkward moments, adding that the transition affects not only the individual going through the process but all other employees of the person’s desired gender.  If none of these options will work, you might also consider requiring the transitioning employee to use the bathroom that matches their biology.  Of course, as noted earlier, the EEOC doesn’t support this option, and it does pose other risks, but sometimes you have to do what’s in the best interests of all employees and not just one.  Especially if you are faced with an employee relations problem with a large group of female employees (and their spouses), or vice versa, who don’t want to use the restroom alongside this transitioning employee.

If you find yourself in this situation, please give us a a call at 919-878-9222 or 3336-668-7746. We can help you think through what course of action makes sense for your organization.

When an Employee Has a Serious Complaint

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News and Observer  column, The View from HR.

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

It happens in every workplace.  The same serious and unlawful misbehavior we see in our communities sometimes find its way to the job.  People are the greatest asset of an employer but can be the “crabgrass in the lawn of business,” as my friend says.

What should happen when harassment, discrimination, abusive treatment and other serious misbehaviors rear their ugly heads?

Managers, please view a complaint as an opportunity to make a situation better AND the long-term relationship with the victim stronger.  Psychologists in workplace studies say that an emotional crisis is a key point where your response can make the employee’s attitude much better OR much worse.  Some even say that the best predictor of whether a problem will end in a lawsuit is how fairly you process the problem, not the problem itself.

Good managers do several things.  They embrace the complaint, rather than avoid it, and focus on finding the right solution.  Neither of you caused the problem, so let the chips fall where they may and avoid prejudgment.  You will create a much better investigation and solution if you remain neutral on the outcome.  If you cannot be objective, ask for help.

Follow through with good listening, appropriate pushback to the victim for the whole story, and appropriate speed and discretion.  Take any quick steps needed to prevent repeat behavior while you work.  Ideally, keep the victim informed of your progress.  Get help from HR or a mentor.  Follow your company’s complaint process, at a minimum.  Precedent can be important to consider, but avoid a foolish consistency as the saying goes.

Employees making complaints have an equally important role.  Follow the complaint policy if there is one, but skip to another manager you trust if needed.  Your manager wants to hear how you feel, but must have facts to investigate.  Focus on the facts.  Who can help support your story?  Bring the problem to a trusted manager sooner rather than later.

Be honest about any part you may have played in the problem or steps you have already taken, good and bad.  Have some discretion and give this time to work.  What is your manager going to hear when he or she investigates?  For example, be prepared to hear some things about your performance you may not like (but need to hear) if work quality is an issue.

An important question that employees and managers often fail to ask is:  “What is the ideal outcome here?”  I am often surprised at how reasonable employees can be even in serious situations.  They know employers cannot guarantee perfect behavior by all.  But they have the right to expect help when they seek it.

Solutions to early-stage problems handled properly by all can be simple and effective, preserving relationships and protecting careers.  Problems that are buried like a bone in the backyard will only get worse with age.

For additional guidance for handling serious complaints from employees, please give our Advice and Resolution Team a call at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

The New World of Recruiting Great Talent

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

HR on Demand Team Member Jill Feldman shares helpful tips for recruiting top candidates for your company:

Teamwork It’s a brave new world for recruiting talent. No longer can we place a job posting on an online job board and assume the candidates will flock to us. Whether it’s the quantity or the quality of applicants, companies are finding it harder than ever to recruit and hire top talent. It’s a new world out there, and in a candidate-driven marketplace, many of our usual “active-recruiting approaches” simply aren’t working.

Why?

It’s simple. With the rise of technology and a focus on self-gratification, top candidates are in the driver’s seat and more in control of their careers than ever. They’re hyper connected, often having multiple career opportunities available at once and they’re not afraid to “job hop” to satisfy their goals.

Consequently, in order to hire top talent and succeed in this new world of recruiting, we must move away from our traditional methods and old school tactics and move towards “new world” thinking and “new world” tactics.

This kind of thinking involves:

  • Focusing on finding a great employee who will serve the organization well beyond today and into the future.
  • Selling the applicant on those aspects of the job and the company likely to be most appealing to him or her. This approach suggests applying the same tools to identify and appeal to applicants that you use to identify and appeal to customers.
  • Focusing on defining the characteristics and qualities of a great employee and, then, using the methods that are best suited to provide you with information about an applicant’s abilities and aptitudes related to these characteristics and qualities.
  • Identifying your best sources of great employees and tailoring your recruiting and hiring methods to best fit that target audience.
  • Taking a much broader perspective on finding top talent and looking at not only the fit between the person and the job but also at the fit between the person, the company, the boss, the coworkers, etc.

Here are some “new world” strategies you can use to recruit and hire top talent:

Know Your Top Employees

Get to know your top employees. Where did they go to school? Where did they work before they came to you? What newspapers/magazines/blogs do they read (both work-related and non-work related)? What hobbies do they have outside of work? What community and/or charity events do they attend? The more you know about your top employees, the more information you will have to help you identify and appeal to great new sources of top talent.

Owning the Recruiting Function

Recruiting and hiring is NOT the sole responsibility of Human Resources. Anyone who has people reporting to them is responsible for recruiting and hiring. The new world of recruiting and hiring top talent requires that you and your organization help all managers own their role in recruiting and hiring. It also requires that you and your organization provide resources (e.g. training, online resources) to your company’s managers to help them improve and strengthen their skills in this area.

Involve Potential Co-Workers

One of the most important and often, most overlooked, aspects of hiring is the fit between an applicant and their potential co-workers. Employees can be one of your most effective recruiting tools. By sharing information about their work environment, employees have the potential to attract great talent. You can have employees do things like interview the applicant, give the applicant a tour of the facility, and take the applicant to lunch. These activities allow employees to share important, work-related information with the applicant. By creating ways for this happen, it shows both applicants and employees that you care about them.

Know and Sell What Makes Your Company Unique

Organizations that do a great job of recruiting and hiring top talent know their values and they know what makes them unique. Most importantly, they find ways to show who they are throughout the recruiting and hiring process. Organizations who understand this concept know who they are and they use creative ways to show who they are during the recruiting and hiring process.

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is no way to meet the demands of the new world of recruiting and hiring top talent. You must think differently and act differently to get different results. What are you doing to think differently and act differently about recruiting and hiring? If you aren’t thinking and acting differently, I can guarantee you that someone else is.

CAI’s recruiting team is dedicated to helping you with all of your recruiting needs. Whether it’s learning more about strategies for recruiting great talent, having us recruit for and fill your vacant positions, or simply answering a few questions, we’re here to help! Please feel free to contact our recruiting team directly at 919-431-6084 or jill.feldman@capital.org.

 

Staying Connected with Remote Employees

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

remote employees

In today’s post, Advice and Resolution team member Renee’ Watkins shares helpful tips for staying connected with your employees who work remotely.

More and more businesses are embracing the use of remote, or virtual, employees. Whether the opportunity to work remotely is provided as a perk, a recruiting tool or for cutting costs, it requires a different mindset on the part of both the employee and their manager to be successful.

Some managers would argue it is difficult to manage employees working on the same floor of the same building, let alone across the country or on another continent altogether. Despite the advent of technology designed to enable team collaboration around the globe, there can be challenges with managing remote employees.

Employees and managers alike wrestle with trust issues in a remote situation. Often remote employees are rarely seen in person on a regular basis. Management can sometimes question whether work is being done when they cannot see it with their own eyes. Remote employees wonder if they are getting the same or as much information as their counterparts at the home office.

Peers who may not have the opportunity to work remotely may show signs of resentment toward remote employees. This can serve to alienate remote employees and lead to being disengaged. In some instances, remote employees do not receive the same level of recognition as local employees upon completion of a significant milestone – “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Hiring the right worker for a remote opportunity usually means someone who is trustworthy and professional enough to work independently and efficiently with little direction from management. For this same reason, management needs to make an extra effort to include remote employees in meetings, announcements and other activities as if they were on-site.

Here are some tips on how to manage remote workers:

Regular Status Updates

These should be held often enough to stay in sync with the remote employee, but not so often as to constitute micromanagement. By definition, a remote worker should not need micromanagement. However, if the remote worker desires more frequent status updates, do everything you can to accommodate them. This is a sign they desire more interaction and you want to keep them engaged in their job and the objectives you are working to achieve.

Work and Play

Remember interaction is not always about work. Employees and managers who work in the same office will naturally establish a bond on a personal level as well and engage in conversations which are non-work-related. Remote employees do not get this type of daily interaction, so it is important to work harder to have conversations about something other than work from time-to-time. Encourage other team members to reach out as well. If feasible, make sure remote employees are brought in for group activities or outings.

Project Share

Where teams are involved, route documents and status emails to the entire group throughout the life of the project. Make sure everyone understands the importance of their own role, as well as others. Keep the remote employees involved and visible to the project and project team.

Open Lines of Communication

Remote workers are less likely to report problems out of fear they will lose the opportunity to work remotely. Also, it is more difficult to recognize a worker who is under stress when they are not in the office each day. Make sure your remote workers know you are there to help them be successful and they have an equal amount of access to your attention as local team members, regardless of distance or geography.

For additional tips for managing your remote workforce, please give our Advice and Resolution team a call at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Handling Stress in the Workplace

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News and Observer  column, The View from HR.

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Few workplace environments are totally stress-free.

Most of us must work for money and benefits to provide our basic needs.  Yes, it would be nice if the job was fun and challenging, but too many are not.  Or maybe your manager does not know how to make it a good job!

If you have done everything you can to change things, and you must stay in the job for now, try some ways to limit its effect on the rest of your life.

NUTs

Scientists say much of our stress comes from NUTs,”Nagging Unfinished Tasks,” forcing us to think about things we should do but have put off.  Do you have a long list of workplace to-do items delayed for another day that cycles over and over in your head?  That’s NUTs.  The best way to get rid of NUTs is to do the unpleasant parts of the job first.  When you go home, there is much less to run through your head like a bad movie.

Go have that conversation, fix that mistake, do that boring task, finish the useless project your boss keeps asking about, produce that run for a difficult customer, finish the work you just do not like to do.  This really works!  You may even find the job is not so bad after all.

Flexibility

Work gets in the way when it has rigid time and place demands.  More and more, work can be done with flexible schedules and locations.  Many jobs have some room for flexibility where there is a willing manager and a good performing employee.

Would you like to work fewer hours?  How about hours outside the normal schedule?  Could you open up for early bird customers (or late arrivals) that currently go unserved?  Can the work be done anywhere?  Would you rather do ten-hour days, or work all weekend?  How could you get more done in less time with fewer unnecessary interruptions?

The point is, what change in place or time would help you fit work to your life, and help the employer provide better services or products?  Focus on what is good for both rather than just your own needs.  Maybe you can find an example at a competitor or similar business where this works well.  Talk to your manager.

Action Plan

If your best efforts to make the job work with your life have failed, it may be time to move on.  The best moves happen when you know what you really want and have a plan to get there.  Too many people leave a job impulsively for reasons such as “no travel,” only to find they now travel even more.

An Action Plan means you know what you want and you are willing to take time defining the steps to get there.  More importantly, you must have the discipline to actually follow (and sometimes revise) the steps.  It works best when your goals are positive rather than mostly avoidance of pain.

Too much stress in the workplace will affect your productivity, to say nothing of your state of mind and physical well-being. Be honest with yourself about when it may be time to leave a bad job.

Top 5 Things Employees Enjoy Most about Working for Their Company

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

In today’s video blog, Sean Walsh, CAI’s Survey Support Specialist, shares the top five reasons employees say they enjoy working for their employers.

He starts by asking, “Have you ever wondered what your employees think of your organization?”

Finding out whether your employees love or hate their workplace can be discovered by measuring employee attitudes through an Employee Opinion Survey (EOS). Sean says they are one of the tried-and-true methods of HR.

He shares that in 2014, over 3000 employees completed an employee opinion survey with CAI. In the video, Sean reveals the top five things that employees enjoy most about working for their current employers and why they enjoy these five workplace aspects:

 5) Benefits 

 4) Management

 3) Schedule / Hours 

 2) Job Responsibilities / My Work 

 1) Fellow Employees / Enjoy the People 

If you have any questions regarding Employee Opinion Surveys, or possibly conducting an Employee Opinion Survey yourself, please feel free to reach out to Sean at Sean.Walsh@capital.org.

 

Attract Top Talent with Your Employee Value Proposition

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

employee value propositionYour Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is a critical tool in your efforts to attract top talent and keep your best employees.  Think of your EVP as the elements that would make up the second half of this sentence spoken by one of your employees, “I give my time, talents, best effort, ideas for making things better and drive to succeed to (fill in your company name) and in turn I get…”

These should be your key selling points when you are talking to great candidates and when you are reminding your employees why they continue to make the good decision to stay with your organization.

The Corporate Executive Board has released data demonstrating the importance of the EVP.  An attractive EVP can reduce the compensation premium needed to hire top talent by 50 percent.  An effective EVP enables an organization to improve the commitment of employees by up to 37 percent.

Now let’s be clear, I realize not every employer can have Google-level perks.  But you need to concentrate on the key things that differentiate you as an employer against the other companies with which you compete for talent.

Here are a few areas where you can differentiate:

  • Pay
  • Health insurance benefits
  • Vacation and paid time off
  • Work-life balance or blend
  • A clear organizational purpose/mission
  • Meaningful work
  • Career development and learning opportunities
  • Positive work environment
  • Autonomy
  • Big goals and a driven workforce

It’s not just one thing that makes a difference.  And despite the fact that I listed pay first, that is only one piece.  Many people would be more than happy to take the average wage for their role to work in a great environment where they are well respected, with a great work-life balance and the chance to make meaningful contributions.

Evaluate your organization’s EVP.  If you are not sure what it is, ask a group of your best employees.  Capture it.  Put it on paper.

Now think about the audience who you want to be able to attract and keep at your organization.  Do research on that group.  Does your EVP match up to what’s important to them in an employer?  If not, what do you need to change to make your organization a more attractive destination for them?

An important point is that you need to make sure your EVP aligns with the wants and needs of the talent you want to attract and keep.  If it doesn’t, you are investing money in the wrong things.  Reevaluate the situation and make choices based on what you know about your audience.

Having a well-formulated EVP based on strategic choices you’ve made as an employer will give you an advantage over your competition for talent.  If you haven’t already developed a clear EVP, now is the time to do so.

At CAI, we are happy to talk you through this and all of your other HR issues and opportunities.  Feel free to give our Advice & Resolution team a call at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.